Does A Fire Pit Need Air Holes? Fire Ventilation Tips

One of the best ways to make your backyard more enjoyable is to install a fire pit. While fire pits are great fun, there are many measures that need to happen and things to be considered.

From placement to regulations, there are many things to consider.

But more importantly is this question: does a fire pit need air holes? In short, they do need air holes as fire pits need to be properly ventilated.

There are several regulations revolving around that.

However, there are some other alternatives and measures that you can take with making these air holes and ensuring you’re safe around fire pits.

To learn more about these things, I encourage you to read more about fire pits below.

fire pit with holes burning wood

Getting Proper Ventilation For Your Fire

Whether you are buying a fire pit or building one yourself, fire pits need airflow to them as oxygen is needed in order to keep the flames going. This need for oxygen increases the more that the fire is contained.

Proper ventilation can also help prevent fires from damaging the surrounding surface, like a patio or when a firepit is on a wood deck.

For example, say your fire pit is an above ground walled pit.

In order for proper airflow, you’ll want to place a single 2-inch hole every 24 to 36 inches around the base of the pit.

You may need more the larger the pit is.

The other thing to note is that you’ll want those holes to be cleared of any ash or debris. Furthermore, avoid using plastic pipes or PVC for air holes.

Those will melt and since they have chemicals in them, those chemicals will be in the fumes.

All that being said, the need for ventilation falls down on the type of fire pit as well.

It can be a good idea for fire pits with holes to have a ring around the fire pit as well.

Outdoor gas burning fire pits and pre-built ones are meant for open spaces and will have ventilation in mind already. But just in case you weren’t aware, you cannot burn wood in a gas firepit.

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You Can Consider Smokeless Fire Pits

Another alternative to adding air holes to fire pits is to simply have a smokeless fire pit. This type of fire uses controlled airflow and temperatures to start a fire.

Think of these fire pits as well-tuned engines that release little exhaust. And you won’t need to worry about the base of the fire pit, as it’s in the ground.

There still is going to be smoke, however, it’s less than traditional fire pits. On top of that, they also produce more heat.

Why most people might not get this is because it takes special work or you need certain parts to them.

The traditional smokeless fire pit is the Dakota fire pit. This fire pit is basically two small pits in the ground with a vent tunnel.

The tunnel is where the air flow is going to be which will start the fire.

The Dakota Fire Hole – Stealth Fire

Another option is the rocket stove which comes in various shapes and sizes, making them portable fire pits. The overall setup is similar to the Dakota fire pit where there is a constant stream of fresh air supplying the bottom.

The last option is having a smoke-free pit insert for your fire pit. You can also consider free-standing patio fire pits too. How it works is that it’s like an afterburner.

The air that comes in gets mixed with the smoke before that creates a second burn, burning the smoke particles. It produces more heat and less smoke this way.

Overall, these are smart investments to make if your goal is to reduce the overall smoke. Air holes can help, but it might be smarter to go with one of these options instead.

General Fire Pit Safety Tips

To finish off, here are some other tips to keep in mind with ventilation as well and to help ensure fire pit safety:

  • Make sure you are using a fire pit in an open space and outside with plenty of airflows. There are a few exceptions to this rule – such as indoor gas fire pits – but ventilation is still important. When setting fire pits outside, be sure the area is clear of anything that could catch fire like branches, low-hanging plants, and trees.
  • Always read the owner’s manual if you’re getting a pre-built fire pit. They’ll have fire safety tips there too but also how to use it and maintain the fire pit too.
  • Know the town rules around fire pits and make a point of exceeding the recommended measures taken.
  • Avoid accelerants at all costs. Things like gasoline, lighter fluid, alcohol or other volatile liquids will start fires and can damage your fire pit.
  • Avoid using plastic or chemically treated materials in any fire pit activities. As I mentioned before, those chemicals will get into the smoke and will create toxic fumes into the air.
  • Do keep water, a fire extinguisher, and a fire blanket on you while around the fire pit. You’ll want to be responding quickly in the case of an emergency and don’t have a few seconds to run into the house. A fire only needs a few moments to spread and cause damage.

You can also check out our post on how to start a fire in a firepit safely.

Final Notes

Fires need air and ventilation, so whenever you’re building a fire pit or setting one up, take time to think about how the fire will get ventilated.

While fire pits with holes are one of the easiest ways to get ventilation to your fire pit, they’re not the only way.

There are also other types of fuel sources to consider for your fire, each come with their pros and cons but all still need ventilation.